How parents can ensure older child bonds well with its new sibling

Alisha Shinde
Saturday, 2 May 2020

If you prepare your child for a new sibling beforehand, they will feel a bond with the baby and both could then grow up to be the best siblings that look after each other and ultimately become best friends.

Pune: An addition to the family means everything from the daily schedules to even food choices would change for the family members. While most members are excited when a baby is on its way, it is essential to prepare the older child for a new sibling too. 

Unlike adults, children find it a tad bit difficult to adjust to a new family member and go through a lot of emotional changes when the baby arrives. In some cases, they feel jealous of the baby since their share of care and attention is now being given to the baby. It also leads to a feeling of loneliness or neglect among them. 

If you prepare your child for a new sibling beforehand, they will feel a bond with the baby and both could then grow up to be the best siblings that look after each other and ultimately become best friends. 

Priyanka Varma, a clinical psychologist, tells us more about how expectant parents can prepare their firstborn for the new addition. 

She points out that the older sibling needs to hear the news about the baby from the parents, not outsiders. “You must tell your child that you are expecting a baby, around the same time as you start telling the other members of the family or your friends. They need to hear it from you. To start talking about the baby, you can create a script, based on the vocabulary and the understanding your child has,” says Varma. 

This way, they feel belonged and also start feeling that they know something over everyone else. You end up gaining their trust. Another effective way to familiarise your child with the new sibling is simply by referring to the baby as ‘our’ and not ‘mine’ to create a feeling of belonging. 

Varma points out that even adding a bit of fun can work wonders. 

“Parents can get their creative side out and narrate or read stories that focus on the elder sibling -- how they receive, take care and play with the younger child,” she says. 

This brings out a sense of responsibility in children in a fun and interactive way. Role-playing with dolls could be another effective way to introduce the child to what it would be like for an elder sibling, their role and place in the new member’s life.

And while these are a few things that you can do, it is equally important to look out for how your firstborn is feeling and dealing with the entire change. Parents can start by taking their thoughts and opinions more seriously and by actively involving them in decisions when it comes to the baby. 

“Value your child’s opinion. Ask them to help you pick out the name so that it creates a sense of importance and responsibility in the young being. They will feel good about not only being able to express themselves but also in realising that what they say or do matters to you,” Varma adds. 

Despite these efforts, your child may still feel neglected or even jealous of the baby. “Older sibling might feel some envy or jealousy when they see parents caring for the baby more or when they spend more time fussing over the kid,” Varma says. She suggests to look out for these signs. “See if the child is becoming a bit aggressive, even while playing. These are the early signs,” she says.

Managing two young ones is a rather tricky job. Parents must take turns to spend quality time with the older child and create some special ‘mommy and me’ or ‘daddy and me’ routines with them. “It could include a special DIY activity or sports that the parent exclusively plays with the child. But you need to be consistent about the day and try to ensure it happens at least once a week,” Varma suggests. This way, you not only ensure spending equal amount of time with both your children but in a way grow a comfortable and robust bond between the two, she concludes.

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